QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
HT: 6-2, WT: 221, Born: 11-24-1982, College: Harvard, Drafted: Round 7
|Outlook • Career Statistics • Game Logs • Split Stats • Play-by-play • Latest News|
The Titans have replaced veteran backup Matt Hasselbeck with another, more age friendly veteran, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Like Hasselbeck, Fitzpatrick has multiple years of quarterback experience, including the last five as a starter. The downside of this situation is that Fitzpatrick has a 23-38 record in that span, mostly as a starter for Buffalo. The Bills have not had a successful program since the late 90's, so not all blame falls on Fitzpatrick's shoulders. He has at least 23 touchdown passes in each of the last three years, which indicates the ability to move the ball and get his team into the End Zone. He is a suitable second option at quarterback but make no mistake, Jake Locker is cemented as the team's starter.
|1||at Pittsburgh Steelers|
|2||at Houston Texans|
|3||San Diego Chargers|
|4||New York Jets|
|5||Kansas City Chiefs|
|6||at Seattle Seahawks|
|7||San Francisco 49ers|
|9||at St. Louis Rams|
|12||at Oakland Raiders|
|13||at Indianapolis Colts|
|14||at Denver Broncos|
|16||at Jacksonville Jaguars|
2012 Game Summaries
Week 1 - Fitzpatrick had an abysmal game in a very humbling loss to the Jets. The Bills first drive started in great field position thanks to a turnover, but Fitzpatrick made a poor decision while trying to force a ball and was picked off by Darrelle Revis. The second drive also ended with an interception on an underthrown ball that he was trying to fit into a very tight window. Fitzpatrick looked out of sync for much of the first half and the Bills were down 21-0 early in the second quarter. Things got worse on first drive of the second half when a clear miscommunication led to a throw right into the hands of Antonio Cromartie for an easy defensive touchdown. It wasn’t until after the game was completely out of reach that Fitzpatrick started to string some passes together, and he did manage to throw 3 touchdown passes in garbage time to finish with respectable fantasy numbers. Given the performance we saw, however, the Bills are likely to have serious doubts about whether Fitzpatrick is really the QB than can take them to the next level and the calls for Tarvaris Jackson will probably start to pick up if he puts up another clunker like this.
Week 2 - Fitzpatrick bounced back from a dismal showing against the Jets and put up a respectably efficient performance against the Chiefs in a blowout win. A strong running game and defense helped take pressure off him, but he generally delivered the ball accurately and quickly while avoiding any big mistakes. Fitzpatrick’s lack of arm strength is apparent, yet he is at his best when spreading the defense out and working the middle of the field. He has yet to take a sack in 2 games this year, and also added 34 yards rushing on 4 attempts this week as he was more aggressive when the defense dropped extra men in coverage.
Week 3 - Ryan Fitzpatrick put together another steady game in a road win over the Browns. Despite rainy conditions and the loss of the league’s leading rusher to injury early in the game, he was able to find open targets and consistently move the ball downfield. Fitzpatrick helped the Bills take control of the game with a couple of early touchdown passes and then put the game away late with his third of the game. The line protected him well and the only sack he’s taken all year came in the first half when he tried to attempt a pass but lost his grip on the wet ball before his arm started moving forward. Over his last 10 quarters combined, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 8 touchdowns and just 1 interception.
Week 4 - If the Buffalo Bills were looking to make a statement about the direction of their franchise today, then that direction must be towards acquiring a new quarterback. Fitzpatrick's performance against the Patriots essentially epitomizes his whole career, it was...inconsistent. Fitzpatrick obviously has the ability to hit short throws with excellent accuracy, but his inability to find receivers down the field really hurt the Bills' chances at winning the game. Fitzpatrick's first turnover wasn't his fault at least. His pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and went directly to a Patriots' defender. Fitzpatrick's struggles became evident during a crucial stretch of the game in the second quarter. He underthrew TJ Graham deep down the right sideline throwing from his own endzone. Graham, a speedster, had easily beaten Devin McCourty but was taken out of the play as Fitzpatrick's pass landed in McCourty's hands with ease. Fitzpatrick rebounded with an accurate pass to Scott Chandler, a player who he had an excellent rapport with on the day, as well as making good use of TJ Graham on screen passes all throughout the game. It was a combination of those aspects of the offense that allowed Fitzpatrick to throw his first touchdown pass. The Bills faked a screen with Graham, before Fitzpatrick threw a very accurate pass to Scott Chandler over the head of Pat Chung in the endzone. Chandler was the only player Fitzpatrick could consistently hit. Outside of a few throws here and there, he never really established a relationship with Stevie Johnson while TJ Graham was cost a potential touchdown when he was overthrown deep on a post route. While Smith's first interception can't be put on him, neither can his touchdown pass to Donald Jones really. Smith completed an accurate short slant pass over the middle of the field for a short gain. Jones however turned that short gain into a long touchdown run with his speed and a devilish sidestep that turned the free safety around in the middle of the field. Continuing his inconsistent day, Fitzpatrick followed that up with a play when he held the ball too long and didn't feel the presence of Rob Ninkovich who forced an easy fumble. Then once the Patriots had a two score lead, Fitzpatrick threw the ball across his body looking for Johnson, but his pass was underthrown and Devin McCourty was gifted his second interception of the day. The next drive featured a throw where Fitzpatrick forced Johnson out of bounds with his accuracy even though he was wide open on the sideline. A relatively easy touchdown pass to Brad Smith wasn't enough to forgive Fitzpatrick late on, but even after that he threw another interception to Tavon Wilson when he and his receiver weren't on the same page. Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be an NFL starter much longer, the truth is he probably shouldn't be.
Week 5 - A terrible day for Fitzpatrick, as the quarterback was unable to do much beyond completing short passes. In the first half, Fitzpatrick was able to string together a long drive with slants and out routes, getting the ball to his receivers and letting them do the rest. He almost threw a touchdown at the end of said drive, but the ball was behind Donald Jones and the receiver was unable to catch it. That was the high water mark for Fitzpatrick, as he spent the rest of the game badly missing receivers, even when given time in the pocket. On long routes down the side, Stevie Johnson and T.J. Graham were able to get some separation against man coverage, but Fitzpatrick either overthrew them or the ball wasn’t even close. Once, C.J. Spiller had beaten the linebacker in coverage down the sideline on a designed play to specifically get Spiller the ball, and with time Fitzpatrick overthrew him. His inaccuracy when not even pressured was staggering. His interception was of the same cloth, with Jones running to the back of the end zone Fitzpatrick sailed a ball that wasn’t able to pass the goal line. Jones had a step on his man, but with such a terrible throw, Jones wasn’t able to readjust in time and Culliver easily picked it off.
Week 6 - It appears Buffalo has finally found the formula to success; limit both the amount of throws whilst also limiting the length of the routes Bills’ WRs are running. After throwing eight INTs in the first five games, Fitzpatrick kept a clean sheet on Sunday. Playing second fiddle to a successful rushing attack, Fitzpatrick and the passing offense often found itself in 3rd and short, limiting the potential for mistakes. The Bills’ first scoring drive saw only three passes from Fitzpatrick, the first a nice completion to Stevie Johnson on 3rd down. Because of a lapse in defensive alignment, Fitzpatrick took advantage of Johnson on safety Adrian Wilson on the out. On the same drive, Fitzpatrick missed a wide-open Johnson on a quick slant, throwing the pass behind his WR. The next play, facing a 3rd and 8, Fitzpatrick would hit Johnson on a delayed slant for 13 yards and a first down. Fitzpatrick’s best play on the drive, however, was not a throw at all. Facing pressure and a collapsing pocket, Fitzpatrick stepped up and ultimately scrambled for a four-yard gain. Most importantly, though, he did not force a throw into traffic. Later Fitzpatrick would lead the Bills down the field on their second TD-scoring drive, this time going 80 yards in five plays. Fitzpatrick had his longest completion of the game, hitting a slanting Johnson on play action for 23 yards on the drive’s first play (and only pass). Fitzpatrick had his struggles too, as he nearly threw an INT on the Bills’ 4th drive, deep in their own territory. After airmailing Johnson badly on a skinny post, Fitzpatrick tried to hit Johnson on an out. The pass was not only late, but well behind Johnson and only a drop by the trailing CB William Gay kept his sheet clean. Later, in OT, Fitzpatrick had a perfect matchup with WR Donald Jones covered by LB Sam Acho. However, Fitzpatrick lazily (and badly) underthrew Jones (who was well beyond Acho) only to be saved by a pass interference call on Acho has he ran through Jones who was trying to come back to the throw. On the same drive, as Buffalo was at minimum trying to work into FG range, Fitzpatrick was facing a 3rd and 10 and had a wide open Fred Jackson with space to run on an out. The pass wasn’t even close, low and too far in front of Jackson, falling incomplete and killing the potentially game winning drive. Fitzpatrick continued to struggle with his deep ball accuracy, as he missed an open Donald Jones early (overthrowing him) before the badly underthrown ball to Jones again in OT. Later in the same drive, Fitzpatrick would underthrow T.J. Graham on a deep throw as well. Fitzpatrick has a tendency to make the easy throws look hard and thankfully the offense didn’t need any heroics on Sunday, as the defense and the running game (with the occasional short pass) kept the game close. Outside of Johnson, Fitzpatrick only targeted the other WRs a total of seven times (completing only two) while looking to his RBs 11 times with nine completions (mostly on screens). Johnson maintained his status as Fitzpatrick’s favorite target, getting one-third of the QB’s attempts. Fitzpatrick failed to throw a TD on Sunday for the second consecutive game.
Week 7 - It was too good to be true for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills’ passing offense. Facing one of the league’s worst defenses and a deficit for the majority of the game, Fitzpatrick executed the Gailey game plan to perfection. A nice blend of short quick passes to the outside, lots of screens to C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson and a plethora of handoffs to both as well, all with the intent of avoiding costly turnovers. The Bills’ opening drive utilized all three and allowed Fitzpatrick to get into a rhythm. After a nine-yard screen to Jackson, Fitzpatrick booted right off play action looking to hit TE Scott Chandler in the flat. Tennessee did a nice job covering the initial read, but Fitzpatrick was smart and facing pressure threw the pass away. The very next play, he hit Stevie Johnson on an out for 12 yards. It took a spectacular catch from Johnson, but again was a safe throw only Johnson could make a play on. After back-to-back runs, Fitzpatrick made another smart decision, recognizing the initial read wasn’t there; he immediately took off and picked up 13 yards on a scramble. Buffalo had gotten themselves in a bit of hole via penalties, but Fitzpatrick didn’t try and force the pass to get all the yards at once. Smartly, he took what the defense gave him and set up a 3rd and short, where the Bills offense is most dangerous. Again Johnson was the target, picking up the 3rd down on a quick out. Another designed swing pass to Spiller in the flat and a short run from Brad Smith from the wildcat had Buffalo facing another 3rd and long. Buffalo went right back to their playmakers, hitting Spiller on a middle screen for 20 yards. Two plays later, out of a different formation, Buffalo used the middle screen again, this time to Jackson for the three-yard TD. The Bills 3rd drive looked very similar to their first, a heavy dose of Jackson and Spiller in the run game, with short quick passes to supplement. Fitzpatrick hit Donald Jones on a WR screen for six yards. Two plays later, it was Jackson again on a middle screen for seven yards. The drive stalled on a short pass from Fitzpatrick to Smith for five yards when the Bills needed six for the first down, but still resulted in points via a Lindell FG. The offense continued to roll behind Fitzpatrick and the running game, not forced to punt until a holding call killed what looked like another promising drive in the 4th quarter. Beaming with confidence, Fitzpatrick began to attack the Titans down the field, finding Donald Jones on a play action boot for 20 yards. After a couple more short throws to his RBs, Fitzpatrick hit Jones on a nice throw in the end zone for a 15-yard TD pass. The following drive, Fitzpatrick again attacked the Titans secondary. With the safeties having to work closer to the line of scrimmage to help with the running game as well as the short passes, Johnson was left with man coverage on the outside. Johnson had CB Jason McCourty turned around allowing for an easy 27-yard TD connection. Well on his way to his best game since early 2011, Fitzpatrick came crashing back with one horrible read and throw, however, two drives later. Up six and at their own 40 with only three minutes remaining, Fitzpatrick made a pre-snap decision to throw to Jones on a comeback and didn’t adjust when the coverage sat on the route. Johnson was wide open on the out, an easy read considering it was ran underneath Jones’, but it was clear Fitzpatrick had made his mind up early. McCourty was waiting for the throw and Fitzpatrick delivered it on a silver platter, a crushing INT that up to that point the offense was beautifully designed to avoid. Fitzpatrick would get one more shot to work the offense into FG range with a minute left, but was unable to muster much of an attack, including a pitiful throw on 4th down giving Johnson no shot to make a catch as the ball was five yards short and well wide. A crushing loss, but certainly one the offense can build on going into their bye. Sunday’s game plan should be a blueprint for the offense going forward.
Week 9 - For the 3rd time in four weeks, Fitzpatrick played a relatively clean game, but was unable to muster enough on offense to get the victory. Again working the short, quick passing game, Fitzpatrick was could not sustain drives consistently and for the first time since San Francisco, was unable to find the end zone. After a nice throw to Stevie Johnson on a slant for 14 yards, Fitzpatrick badly overthrew an open Johnson, ostensibly killing the Bills opening drive. It wasn’t until the 3rd drive that Buffalo found much success on offense. Again Fitzpatrick found Johnson on a quick slant, picking up nine yards on first down. Then it was Donald Jones slanting, picking up another seven yards. Clearly the Bills’ best play, Fitzpatrick and C.J. Spiller executed the middle screen to perfection, allowing Spiller to pick up 28 on the play. The drive resulted in a badly missed FG, but Fitzpatrick did a nice job managing the drive and putting Buffalo in position to get points on the board (this is the most Bills’ fans can ask for). The following drive, Fitzpatrick again did a nice job working the Bills down the field. A middle screen to TE Dorin Dickerson picked up 14 yards. The very next play, off play action, Fitzpatrick found Jones on an out for 14 yards. Facing a 3rd and long two plays later, Fitzpatrick delivered a nice ball to TE Scott Chandler for eight yards and a first down. After a false start pushed Buffalo back, Fitzpatrick nearly picked up another 3rd and long, hitting Jones across the middle for eight, just coming up one yard short of a first down. Despite stalling, the Bills’ offense was able to get points out of the drive. Fitzpatrick orchestrated another scoring drive, working the two minute drill nicely just before halftime. A drop on the drive’s opening play by T.J. Graham broke a string of 11 straight completions for Fitzpatrick, but he did a nice job of recovering from the drop. After a pretty back shoulder throw/catch to Spiller, Fitzpatrick had his best throw of the game the following play. Working two routes to the right side, Fitzpatrick perfectly dropped a ball in-between the coverage to Jones on the deep out. Johnson was underneath Jones, with slacking coverage. It took immense touch to get it to Jones as coverage was below and over the top. Far from accurate and rarely able to exhibit touch, Fitzpatrick showed both on the pass. Fitzpatrick opened the 2nd half with some of his old tricks, namely the attempted deep ball to Johnson down the sideline that is overthrown by five plus yards resulting in a quick three and out. However, Fitzpatrick bounced back the next drive, again leading the team to points. After a nice throw to Jones off a play action fake for 15 yards on a crosser, Fitzpatrick completed another great pass. Chandler ran up the seam and Fitzpatrick delivered a 24-yard dart to the TE getting the Bills into Houston territory. After two successful plays to get Buffalo into 3rd and short, Johnson let Fitzpatrick down with a horrible drop. Again working the quick slant, the ball was delivered on target, but Johnson was unable to bring the pass in forcing another FG. Another drop later in the game by Chandler would prove to be crucial as well, killing another Bills drive while there was still ample time left on the clock. Fitzpatrick did have one turnover, a fumble, but it came late in the 4th quarter when the game was well at hand. Trying to scramble, Fitzpatrick didn’t feel the backside pressure and took a hard shot from Whitney Mercilus, jarring the ball loose. Despite the turnover, and constant pressure (including three sacks) and numerous hits, Fitzpatrick played a strong game.
Week 10 - It’s beginning to feel like clockwork for the Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo Bills offense. Like the mule chasing the carrot on the stick, victory is mere inches away and yet, Fitzpatrick, playing the ass, cannot get out of his own way. Fitzpatrick again looked the part for the majority of the game on Sunday, but crumbled when it mattered most. After penalties killed the opening drive, Fitzpatrick made his first big mistake on the Bills’ 2nd drive. Trying to hit C.J. Spiller in the flat, Fitzpatrick saw his only target blanketed and was unable to adjust to the coverage. Holding the ball too long, Fitzpatrick took a shot from monster Vince Wilfork and fumbled, giving the Patriots possession deep in Buffalo territory. Fitzpatrick finally got things going offensively the following drive, with the very familiar middle screen kicking things off. Facing a 3rd and long, Fitzpatrick hit Fred Jackson on the screen and watched his RB carry three tacklers the final four yards for the first down. Playing off a successful running game early, Fitzpatrick used a play fake three plays later and was given forever in the pocket. Donald Jones had ample time to drag all the way across the field for a 22-yard gain. Fitzpatrick found Jackson one more time on the drive, picking up four yards before penalties killed the drive and left Buffalo settling for a FG. Having found his rhythm, Fitzpatrick completed all three throws for 42 yards on the next TD drive. A short swing to Spiller in the flat for two yards, followed again by another successful play fake allowing TE Scott Chandler to get down the seam for 23 yards. Fitzpatrick went right back to Chandler the very next throw, hitting him on the post for 17 yards. Still brimming with confidence, Fitzpatrick again lead the Bills down the field for a TD. Opening with a 14-yard toss to Stevie Johnson on a curl, Fitzpatrick was not deterred by poor drop by Donald Jones on the following play. Fitzpatrick went back to Chandler, hitting him across the middle for 14 yards. Another nine yards to Jackson on a quick slant, Fitzpatrick may have had his play of the game the next play. With nowhere to toss the ball and a pocket collapsing, Fitzpatrick went into scramble mode. Waiting in the open, Jarod Mayo was sizing the QB up. Doing his best Vick impersonation, Fitzpatrick pumped once and hesitated just briefly, before bouncing the run to the outside and leaving the befuddled Mayo in his wake, picking up five yards on the scramble and another 15 on a late hit out of bounds. After misfiring to Johnson on a deep ball down the sideline, Fitzpatrick found Jones on a deep post for 18 yards. The toss was high, but Jones was able to secure the throw before the hit. Fitzpatrick and Johnson just missed a TD on the following play in the back of the end zone as Johnson made a spectacular catch/toe tap, but couldn’t get the 2nd foot down before getting shoved out of bounds. However, not to be deterred, Fitzpatrick found a wide-open Chandler on the following play for the three-yard TD just before halftime. Just like the week prior, Fitzpatrick struggled on the Bills opening drive of the 2nd half. The lone pass play saw the QB waiting in the pocket too long for an opening downfield, taking the sack and killing the drive immediately. Fitzpatrick found his rhythm again, however, the following drive. After a great diving catch by Johnson on a deep in for 19 yards, Fitzpatrick hit Spiller on a screen for 20 yards. Fitzpatrick went back to Jones on a curl the following play for 11 yards. Fitzpatrick again made a smart decision the next play, grounding the pass to Jackson after the defense was prepared for the screen. Jones broke the coverage on a wheel route two plays later, but the pass was slightly overthrown and grazed the diving WRs fingers before falling incomplete. Buffalo didn’t hesitate to go on 4th down and Johnson easily won his out route picking up 14 yards in the process. Johnson went right back to the out the very next play, picking up 11 to the Patriot two yard line. Working the slot, Jones took the ball to the one on a quick slant. Fitzpatrick again took the offense down on the following possession. Using the play fake, time was abundant and Fitzpatrick was able to hit his 3rd read in T.J. Graham for 11 yards on the comeback. A beautiful play fake of an end around, Fitzpatrick dumped it to Spiller and watched the magician work his magic to the tune of 25 yards. The Bills marched down the short field the following possession. After getting deep into Patriot territory, Johnson saved a poor throw from Fitzpatrick from getting picked off in the end zone. Fitzpatrick stared Jones down on the following play, but the pass never reached the waiting DB reading the QB’s eyes as it was knocked down. Fitzpatrick made amends the following play, finding Jones on a quick slant for the two-yard TD. With the game hanging in the balance, Fitzpatrick seemed poised to work the beleaguered Patriot defense for one more drive. On 3rd and long, Fitzpatrick coolly hit Johnson on an out for 21 yards, followed by a 14-yard toss to Jones on a crosser. The following throw was Fitzpatrick’s best of the game, despite it falling incomplete. Jones ran a solid corner route and Fitzpatrick put the perfect touch on the throw, dropping it right over Jones’ shoulder and into his arms. Certainly not an easy catch, it is one Jones needed to make. Jones collected the pass, but hit the ground hard and the ball popped out. After a short dump to Jackson for seven, Fitzpatrick converted another 3rd down, finding Johnson on an out for six yards. Spiller was next, dragging underneath the routes for 15. After a shot to the end zone that fell incomplete, Fitzpatrick made the mistake all Gillette Stadium was waiting for. After looking and pumping left, Fitzpatrick turned right and threw blindly to T.J. Graham in the end zone. After Devin McCourty’s brother killed Buffalo three weeks prior, it was Devin’s turn. McCourty was sitting beneath the route and easily picked the pass off, effectively ending the game 15 yards short of victory. Just like his INT against the Titans, Fitzpatrick’s mind was made up pre-snap and he never even considered the coverage adjustment throwing the pass into a flat-footed, zoned defenders’ arms. There appeared to be some confusion in the booth about if it was Graham or Fitzpatrick’s fault, but regardless of fault have to question the decision to target the rookie there as compared to one of the league’s better WRs in Johnson. After looking every bit the part for 59 minutes, one decision obliterated it all. It is tough to ask Fitzpatrick to play perfect every week (and the defense has spent all of 2012 doing just that), but mistakes like Sunday’s INT (given down and distance) have become all too familiar for Fitzpatrick.
Week 11 - Like his counterpart in Ryan Tannehill, Fitzpatrick had what appeared to be one of his better matchups facing a weak Dolphin’s passing defense. However, like Tannehill, Fitzpatrick struggled to get much going in the passing game, with the Bills’ coaching staff clearly comfortable milking their double digit lead for the majority of the game. It wasn’t until the Bills’ 3rd drive that Fitzpatrick threw his first pass, a failed attempt at a back shoulder throw to Stevie Johnson on 2nd down. A rare disconnect between the QB and WR, as clearly Fitzpatrick made a quick audible at the line and Johnson just missed the read. Fitzpatrick made amends the very next play, hitting Johnson on a deep in for 15 yards on 3rd and 10. Fitzpatrick targeted Johnson for a third consecutive play, hitting the comeback for 16 yards after Johnson created separation with a nice swim move. Facing another 3rd down, Fitzpatrick targeted Donald Jones for the first time, just missing the connection in the front corner of the end zone. Certainly not the easiest of catches, it is one the Bills and Fitzpatrick need the 3rd year WR to make as it caromed off his hands and fell incomplete. The following drive, Fitzpatrick went play action on 2nd down, faking the hand off to C.J. Spiller before he did a nice job dropping his arm level to avoid the pressure on the outside and complete the sidearm toss on the screen to Spiller for 24 yards (the longest play of the night). Two plays later Fitzpatrick went back to play action, faking the hand off left before booting right and finding a wide-open Chandler in the flat for 23 yards. After a failed quick screen to T.J. Graham due to a poor block on the outside, Fitzpatrick nearly made that momentum-swinging mistake on 3rd down. Fitzpatrick’s mind was made up pre-snap and locked on to Chandler just beyond the sticks on the quick out. Karlos Dansby was draped all over Chandler and had he went for the INT instead of just knocking the pass down, he had a clear lane to the end zone. Buffalo was forced to settle for another FG, but more importantly, avoided the red zone turnover. Fitzpatrick and the Bills again marched down the field the following drive, but did so with considerable help from the officiating crew and Miami CB Nolan Carroll. After a bad throw into traffic to Johnson fell incomplete, Fitzpatrick tried to hit a streaking Graham down the sideline. The pass wasn’t even close to completion, but a 32-yard pass interference call on Carroll saved the drive. Fitzpatrick had his best play of the game two plays later, again turning pressure and a collapsing pocket into a positive with his feet instead of forcing a throw down field. DE Jared Odrick had the QB dead to rights in the backfield, but Fitzpatrick did his best Houdini impression, sneaking out and picking up 13 yards and the first down on the scramble. Fitzpatrick went right back at Carroll the following play and despite a really poor throw to Jones, was able to collect 15 more yards on the interference call. Fitzpatrick was caught staring Chandler down again on 3rd down, this time on a deep seam route, but didn’t pull the trigger and was ultimately sacked, forcing another FG attempt. Fitzpatrick went back to Johnson to open the next drive, taking advantage of a sagging corner and hitting Johnson on the quick strike for 12 yards. Another penalty on Carroll after Jones worked the CB with a solid double move had the Bills driving again. But after picking up eight to Chandler over the middle, the drive stalled when Tashard Choice got a case of alligator arms and didn’t extend on the short toss on the angle route, killing the drive and forcing the Bills’ first punt of the night. Working the two-minute drill on the Bills final drive of the first half, Fitzpatrick opened the drive with a screen to Spiller for 13 yards. Fitzpatrick and Johnson again connected on a 3rd and long with another back shoulder throw, taking the drive down to the Dolphin four-yard line. Fitzpatrick tried to force his next throw to Jones across the middle, but threw it into too much traffic and a deflection nearly led to an INT. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick sent Chandler out wide all alone. The TE was locked into single coverage against the much smaller Rashad Jones, but was able to easily disrupt the quick slant, forcing a 4th FG in four red zone trips. After leading the Bills on four scoring drives in six attempts in the first half, Fitzpatrick was not able to get anything going in the 2nd half. The Bills took the opening drive to the Miami 36, but a tipped pass on 3rd down sent his attempt to Johnson sailing out of bounds, forcing a punt. The following drive was considerably worse, despite Fitzpatrick making a nice play on 1st down to scramble away from pressure and pick up three yards. 3rd down had Spiller running an underneath route and was left uncovered, but immediate pressure from an unblocked Cameron Wake left Fitzpatrick with no time and he was dropped for the sack, forcing a quick three and out. Miami ramped up the pressure on the following drive, again forcing two short throws underneath and pushing Buffalo to consecutive three and outs. After a Miami TD, Fitzpatrick needed to get the offense going the next drive as the lead had shrunk to five. Fitzpatrick went back to his favorite target/route, hitting Johnson on a back shoulder throw for 12 yards, picking up an important first down. However, the drive stalled as the Bills and Fitzpatrick went conservative, choosing the safe dump to Spiller in the flat for two yards on 3rd and long. Far from Fitzpatrick’s best game and clearly missing one of his favorite targets in Fred Jackson, Fitzpatrick did what he needed to ensure the win. Most importantly, Fitzpatrick did not turn the ball over once, despite a couple questionable throws, never allowing the Miami defense to swing the field position (and momentum) for the struggling Dolphin offense. Fitzpatrick certainly didn’t win the game, but again, that isn’t what Buffalo needs from the QB. Behind a strong running game and a solid defensive effort, Fitzpatrick did not lose the game.
Week 12 - With their season on the line and facing a must-win on Sunday, the Bills needed Ryan Fitzpatrick and the passing offense to step up against one of the leagues worst defenses. Unfortunately, what has become standard operating procedure for the Buffalo Bills; whatever is needed (offensively or defensively) to take the next step in Buffalo never shows up. Struggling right out of the gate, Fitzpatrick nearly threw an INT on his first pass before taking a sack waiting for something to open on his next throw, promptly going three and out. Fitzpatrick hit Stevie Johnson on his first throw the following drive, picking up nine yards on the mismatch from the slot. What has been the theme on every deep ball up to that point, Fitzpatrick badly missed a streaking (and wide-open) C.J. Spiller running up the seam on his next toss. Loving the matchup against a flat-footed LB, Spiller ran right past the coverage. But Fitzpatrick rushed the throw, overthrowing his RB by a good three yards, which seems impossible considering Spiller’s speed. A penalty saved the drive, however, and Fitzpatrick used play action on his next throw, putting the back shoulder throw right between TE Dorin Dickerson’s numbers only to have pass fall incomplete. Fitzpatrick tried to hit Spiller on a middle screen, but the Colts were clearly prepared for it and easily clogged the play and forced the incompletion. Fitzpatrick went back to the screen game on 3rd down, hitting T.J. Graham on the quick screen for 24 yards for the 1st down. Four plays later Fitzpatrick tried to go back to the same screen, but the Colts were ready stopping the play for no gain. Pressure forced Fitzpatrick out of the pocket the following play and only allowed a short dump to Johnson over the middle for six yards. Starting on their own one, Fitzpatrick did a nice job to get the initial first down with a play fake to quick screen to Donald Jones for nine yards. With some space to operate and a Colts defense jumping every screen and first move, Fitzpatrick again failed to capitalize on a wide-open receiver down field. Immediately after Jones picked up nine yards, he easily beat the coverage with a double move, but Fitzpatrick’s throw was high and wide, with too much zip and Jones was unable to make the adjustment or the catch. Fitzpatrick booted right on the next play, but sound coverage forced the QB to ultimately throw the ball away. Fitzpatrick opened the next drive with offense’s longest play of the season, finally able to take advantage of an overaggressive Colts defense. Just as Jones had done the drive before, Johnson pulled a beautiful double move, easily getting five yards beyond the coverage. Making sure to not miss the target this time, Fitzpatrick slightly underthrew Johnson who was able to pick up 63 yards on the play. Had Fitzpatrick hit Johnson in stride and not forced him to slow down to make the catch, the play would probably have been 80 yards and a TD. Despite the long play, Buffalo again stalled in the red zone as three consecutive pass plays netted only four yards, all coming on a Fitzpatrick scramble on 3rd down after two incompletions to Johnson. Like a volume knob on a stereo, the Colts slowly ratcheted up the pressure with each drive, killing the final drive of the first half as they were able to hit Fitzpatrick’s arm on his first attempt forcing an incompletion before forcing a rushed throw (and incompletion) to Johnson on a quick slant on the next play. Coming out of halftime, Fitzpatrick continued to struggle, badly underthrowing Graham over the middle. Fitzpatrick finally converted a 3rd down, hitting TE Scott Chandler for 10 yards on an out before imploding on the drive’s final two plays. After a batted pass on 2nd down, Fitzpatrick threw what should have been an INT over the middle to LB Moise Fokou. With heavy pressure right in his face, Fitzpatrick threw blindly over the middle to Johnson on a slant. Fokou was positioned perfectly as the pass hit him right in the hands, but he couldn’t secure the easy INT. Following another three and out, Fitzpatrick was able to ride the back of Spiller’s rushing attack to lead the Bills to their lone TD. Fitzpatrick did convert another 3rd down, however, doing a nice job looking off the coverage before picking up 14 yards on the slant to Johnson. Two plays later, it was Jones on a middle screen for 12 yards, taking the ball down to the one-yard line. Fitzpatrick found back up TE in the end zone all alone two plays later for his lone TD pass on the day. Building on the success of the previous TD drive, Fitzpatrick appeared to get into a rhythm the Bills’ final drive, hitting Chandler over the middle for 15 yards after a play fake. Fitzpatrick hit his next three throws, including two more to Johnson. However, a negative play on another screen to Jones seemed to disrupt that rhythm as Fitzpatrick threw his lone INT on the following play. Johnson made a tremendous play to get the ball back for Buffalo, but the damage was done. After picking up six yards on a scramble, Spiller was dropped for a four-yard loss on a screen. Facing pressure, Fitzpatrick tried to hit Spiller again in the flat, but the contested throw fell incomplete and Buffalo offense did not take the field again after punting on 4th down.
Week 13 - Pay no attention to Fitzpatrick’s numbers; this is the type of performance the team needs to succeed in the future. Only throwing 17 times, Fitzpatrick only completed nine of them for a paltry 112 yards, but more importantly he wasn’t the focal point of the offense as the Bills rushing attack racked up 39 carries. After two incompletions and an 11-yard scramble on 3rd down, Fitzpatrick compiled nearly half of his passing yards on the day on his first completion. Filling in for the injured Donald Jones, T.J. Graham was able to slip behind the coverage for a 51-yard bomb from Fitzpatrick to the Jacksonville one-yard line. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick took the carry up the middle on the sneak for the TD. A drop from TE Scott Chandler on 3rd down killed the Bills’ second drive, resulting in a punt. The ball was perfectly placed, but Chandler let the throw get into his body. In true Fitzpatrick fashion, the QB looked both the genius and the dunce on the same drive. After smartly checking down to C.J. Spiller on 2nd down for seven yards, Fitzpatrick stared Stevie Johnson down on his next throw. Former Bill Paul Posluszny easily read the locked in eyes of the QB, stepping in front of the throw for INT. Certainly frustrated with the turnover, Gailey smartly took the ball out of Fitzpatrick’s hand on the following drive. After a slip screen to Fred Jackson picked up 11, the Bills rushed six consecutive plays before Fitzpatrick was allowed to throw again. Still not fully trusting, it was two more plays before Fitzpatrick was allowed to throw the ball down field, an incompletion on 4th down to Chandler. Gailey kept the ball out of Fitzpatrick on the following drive too, running four times before Fitzpatrick hit Chandler over the middle for an 11-yard TD pass. It was a perfect touch pass from Fitzpatrick, just barely grazing Posluszny’s outstretched fingers on the underneath coverage before finding Chandler in the back of the end zone. Buffalo again went run heavy on the following drive, avoiding the throw until 3rd down where it appeared Fitzpatrick was given one option on the toss (by the coaching staff), throwing the ball away as the coverage killed the route. Buffalo continued to pound the Jaguar defense out of halftime, not throwing until the Bills were deep in Jacksonville territory. After three consecutive incompletions, Fitzpatrick connected with Johnson on an out for a 13-yard TD pass. Six more runs before Fitzpatrick threw the ball again, a middle screen to Jackson for a short loss. With a mounting lead, continued poor weather and dwindling WR options (following Johnson’s departure with a hamstring issue), Fitzpatrick would only get one more throw, a 12-yard toss to Brad Smith on a curl. Not needing to throw much on Sunday, Bills fans hope the blueprint from Sunday sees more play in the future.
Week 14 - Fitzpatrick and the Bills’ passing offense hit that (un)magical number of passing attempts of at least 30 in another brutal loss on Sunday, despite leading for the majority of the game. After two awful three and outs to open the game, with a near INT on Fitzpatrick’s first attempt, the offense finally found its groove on the 3rd drive. Using the play fake on the opening play, Fitzpatrick hit a streaking Donald Jones down the seam for 19 yards. After a sack and a short dump to Jones on 2nd down, Fitzpatrick went to the screen game on 3rd and long and let C.J. Spiller work his magic to the tune of 15 yards. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick booted right off the play fake with TE Scott Chandler working beneath the line of scrimmage and into the flat. Chandler was uncovered and was able to turn up field for 20 yards. After a quick nine-yard hit to Stevie Johnson, Fitzpatrick (who was running for his life all day) was pressured outside the pocket on 3rd down. Unable to set his feet, Fitzpatrick short armed his toss to a wide-open Jones bringing on the FG unit. Pressure forced another incompletion to kick off the next drive, but still in rhythm from the previous drive, Fitzpatrick hit Chandler over the middle for 23 yards. Fitzpatrick booted right on the next play and threw a nice back shoulder throw to Johnson for 34 yards. The offensive rhythm was interrupted, however, as a costly fumble spoiled the drive and the Bills went three and out on the following drive. Fitzpatrick completed a deep in to Jones on 3rd down for 11 yards to extend the next drive, but pressure again forced another punt. Taking over at midfield just before halftime, Fitzpatrick quickly moved the offense into scoring position with a nine-yard dump to Fred Jackson and then a quick hit to T.J. Graham for six yards. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick and Chandler connected again over the middle for 11 yards. The Rams’ defense appeared to be reeling, but awful clock management and questionable play calling had the Bills settling once again for a FG. Trailing for the first time, Fitzpatrick put his best drive together on the Bills’ opening drive of the 2nd half. With lax (reoccurring theme for St. Louis) coverage on the outside, Fitzpatrick hit Johnson for 11 yards. After a strange Fitzpatrick fumble put the offense in 2nd and long, Fitzpatrick hit Graham underneath for 11 yards before Jackson took a short pass in the flat to the sticks. The coverage continued to lay off and Fitzpatrick didn’t hesitate to attack, hitting Graham again just off the line for 16 yards. Like they’ve done all year, once the Bills hit the red zone Gailey called a middle screen to Johnson who took the pass down to the St. Louis one-yard line. With the Rams clearly expecting run, Fitzpatrick play faked to Jackson and booted right, finding a wide-open Lee Smith in the end zone for a one-yard TD pass. In the following four drives, with three chances to seal the game, the Buffalo offense absolutely died, with Fitzpatrick only completing two passes and converting one first down. After relinquishing the lead, Fitzpatrick opened the final drive with a nice ball to Chandler for 19 yards. However, with only one timeout and dwindling time, Fitzpatrick took a sack on the following play all but killing any chance of a comeback. Following the sack, Fitzpatrick threw his lone INT of the game, stifling the (very) brief comeback bid. While the offense certainly sputtered, the blame should be nowhere near Fitzpatrick. Sacked five times, hit countless others and shady play calling (Spiller eight touches?!?!); Fitzpatrick worked with what he was given only to just barely come up short (again).
Week 15 - In a season full of struggles, Sunday’s game was just one more nail in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s coffin. With the way Wilson was playing on the other side, Buffalo needed an other worldly type performance from their QB and Fitzpatrick is just not capable of delivering those types of games. Fitzpatrick opened the game trying to hit T.J. Graham on a vertical route down the sideline, but like a blind man throwing darts, Fitzpatrick merely heaves and prays on every deep throw. Badly overthrown, the tone was set and Buffalo was punting two plays later. Fitzpatrick actually looked palpable on the Bills’ 2nd drive, opening with a short 11-yard dump to Scott Chandler in the flat for a quick first down. Seeing sagging coverage on the outside, Fitzpatrick picked up a quick seven yards to Stevie Johnson the following play. Two plays later, Brad Smith curled up for a 10-yard gain on 3rd down to extend the drive. Fitzpatrick connected with Johnson again three plays later, a quick slant that went for 17 yards and put Buffalo into position to score their first TD of the game. However, the rhythm was short lived, as the following two drives netted zero first downs and resulted in two quick punts. Deep in deficit and needing to give the defense a chance to regroup, it was the Bills pass catchers who came to the rescue. After picking up a 3rd down with a short toss to Chandler, Fitzpatrick went right back to his TE as he ran free down the seam. An awful throw, both high and behind him, Chandler made a tremendous play to make the 22-yard catch. A drop and a short run had Buffalo facing another 3rd down, but as he did all day, Johnson worked CB Richard Sherman on a beautiful corner route. Probably Fitzpatrick’s easiest completion of the day, Johnson was essentially uncovered for the 20-yard TD pass. With a little momentum, Fitzpatrick went right back to the corner route to kick off the last drive before halftime, hitting Johnson on an almost identical play for 24 yards. A short six-yard slant to Spiller (nearly intercepted on the dangerous throw) followed by a dump to Chandler over the middle for 13 yards had the Bills deep in Seattle territory. Unfortunately, time was not on their side and following an incompletion to Johnson, the Bills had to settle for a FG. With a little momentum, having scored ten unanswered points and getting the ball to kick off the 2nd half, Fitzpatrick managed to do what he does best. After a sack and another horrible overthrow of an open receiver down field, Johnson made a spectacular one handed grab on another high throw for 25 yards on 3rd and long to keep the drive going. With barely any time to celebrate, Fitzpatrick dropped back to pass for a 3rd consecutive time and like he as done so often in 2012, made up his mind pre-snap. Locked into Chandler, despite the double coverage, Fitzpatrick’s throw was easily intercepted by LB K.J. Wright. Such a microcosm of the season, hope immediately followed by utter disappointment, the Bills offense (especially Fitzpatrick) never recovered from the INT. The following drive, Fitzpatrick opened with a couple quick shots to Johnson, but was strip sacked on his next drop back resulting in another turnover. As if the two badly missed deep shots earlier weren’t enough, Fitzpatrick opened the next drive with another for good measure. Using play action, Johnson was able to get both vertical and behind the coverage, but Fitzpatrick’s heave was not even close. After a short gain to Smith on a quick slant, Fitzpatrick dropped back to throw on 3rd down. Hearing footsteps, Fitzpatrick looked incredibly uneasy in the pocket despite having all day and ultimately uncorked a wild throw downfield to Chandler. The throw was not close, Chandler reacted (or didn’t) as if it was intended for someone else as the pass was both high and well wide as it sailed into S Earl Thomas’ hands. Thomas returned the INT for a TD perfectly capping another abhorrent game from the Bills’ QB. Never easy to watch a Fitzpatrick-led attack, Sunday was especially difficult as across the field stood a rookie who Buffalo had passed on not once or twice, but three consecutive rounds in the 2012 draft.
Week 16 - Well documented and proven time and again, Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t a QB who is going throw the offense on his back and carry the team to victory. Combine that sentiment with four turnovers, an injury to one of his favorite targets on the 2nd offensive play of the game and perhaps the worst game of Stevie Johnson’s young career and you have the makings of a 14-point loss to a team who only threw for 130 yards. Fitzpatrick and the offense took off quickly, with a 14-yard dump to C.J. Spiller and a 25-yard completion to Scott Chandler on consecutive plays. Two plays later Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson connected on a quick slant for eight yards, but the drive (and rhythm) were cut short on the same play as Johnson fumbled the catch away. The following drive, Fitzpatrick continued to deal, finding a wide-open Johnson for what would have been another 10+ yards gain, but the WR couldn’t make the catch. Undeterred, Fitzpatrick hit TE Dorin Dickerson on a corner route for 22 yards to keep the drive going. The game, namely Fitzpatrick, took a fairly aggressive turn on the next play, however, as Karlos Dansby ran free to the QB’s blindside. Just as Fitzpatrick delivered the ball Dansby drilled Fitzpatrick, forcing an incompletion and perhaps more importantly, rattling the QB. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick and Dickerson couldn’t make a connection over the middle, forcing a punt. A big run from Spiller promptly moved the offense into Miami territory and Fitzpatrick delivered perhaps his best throw of the season the following play. With Johnson running a vertical, Fitzpatrick perfectly placed the throw out in front of Johnson who had just beaten the coverage. The equivalent to winning $10,000 on a scratch ticket (the duo have tried vehemently to connect on the same play all season, with essentially zero success), Johnson was able to extend and catch the pass in his fingertips. As he stumbled into the end zone, Johnson maintained the extension, clearly in an attempt to break the plane and was able to do just that. However, just as Calvin Johnson had done in week one of 2010, Stevie used the hand/ball combo to break his fall as he tumbled through the end zone. The ball came out and the officials quickly ruled it incomplete. Regardless of the stupidity of the rule (was clearly a TD in both instances), it was correctly applied and two plays later, the Bills were again settling in the red zone. Frustrated, and hurting after another crushing blow from the Miami defense, Fitzpatrick couldn’t muster another 1st down for the rest of the half; going three and out on three consecutive possessions. Just out of halftime, Fitzpatrick connected on his first throw for 18 yards to Dickerson, a nice throw on a deep post. However, the turnover bug struck again as Dickerson fumbled the catch away. The following drive, the Bills opened with four consecutive runs before Fitzpatrick dropped back to pass on 3rd down. Just like the previous drive, the play ended disastrously as Fitzpatrick was hit on the play and fumbled the ball away. Another three and out to follow, the Bills found themselves down 21 with less than a quarter left in the game the next time they touched the ball. Fitzpatrick opened the drive with a quick screen to T.J. Graham for two yards before hitting Dickerson on a crosser for seven yards. Four plays later, Fitzpatrick connected on another ball, a 41-yard bomb to Graham. The ball was underthrown, Graham was well behind the coverage on the vertical route, but Graham made a nice play on the ball to bring the completion down despite the contact from trailing CB Bryan McCann. Fitzpatrick finally connected with Johnson on the following play, picking up 10 yards on the hitch. Three plays later, Fitzpatrick his Ruvell Martin on 3rd down to extend the drive. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick and Brad Smith connected on a quick hit for a two-yard TD, the first offensive TD against Miami in 2012. After the next drive opened with a sack, Fitzpatrick did a nice job working out of the long down and distance. After an eight-yard scramble, Fitzpatrick connected with Spiller on a Z route for 14 yards and a first down. A quick hitter to Smith for nine yards and another 15-yard completion to Johnson two plays later had the Bills offense working down the field. Fitzpatrick and Johnson connected again two plays later, a 10-yard back shoulder throw. Four plays later, Fitzpatrick showed his headiness, spreading the Dolphins out on 4th down before quick snapping the ball and sneaking for five yards on 4th and five. A 17-yard completion to Martin two plays later had Buffalo at the Dolphin one before a spectacular play from S Reshad Jones ended the drive (and the game) at the goal line. Fitzpatrick took the snap and rose up to hit Johnson on the quick slant, but Jones was able to elevate and make the INT allowing the Dolphin offense to kneel the game away. With turnovers and missed chances killing everything early, Fitzpatrick just didn’t have enough time or weaponry to bring Buffalo back.
Week 17 - In a battle of two QBs getting paid way too much and who may be without jobs in 2013, Fitzpatrick was able to ride the back of his playmakers to a victory in the season finale. After opening the game with a nice 11-yard connection with Stevie Johnson, Fitzpatrick missed on his next four throws (spanning three drives). Missing badly on all four throws, Fitzpatrick went back to the team’s bread and butter; a middle screen to C.J. Spiller. An easy completion, Spiller took the short toss 66 yards for the team’s first offensive TD. Fitzpatrick’s struggles continued, however, despite following the TD pass up with a 29-yard completion to Johnson on his next throw. After the completion, Fitzpatrick missed on five of his next six throws (this time spanning two drives) and only completed three passes in the 1st half. Fitzpatrick finally found some semblance of rhythm the following drive, opening with an 18-yard completion to Brad Smith on 3rd down. Facing another 3rd down, Fitzpatrick went to Johnson over the middle for 18 yards to get the Bills into FG range. Despite spectacular field position to on the following drive, Fitzpatrick threw well wide of Johnson on 3rd down, forcing the WR to make a ridiculous one-handed grab. Even though Johnson was able to make the catch, the throw forced him to leave his feet and killed any shot at a conversion. Using play action to kick off the next drive, Fitzpatrick and Johnson connected deep down the sideline for 37 yards. A rare occurrence, Fitzpatrick put the ball where Johnson could make a play on it and the WR did a nice job making the catch. High from the connection, Fitzpatrick hit his next three throws to get the Bills inside the Jet five-yard line. Fitzpatrick only completed one more pass (another great grab by Johnson for 11 yards), but in a game the Bills were running away with, they didn’t need anything more from the QB. With only one TD and sub 50% completion rate, Fitzpatrick’s best stat was the zero in the turnover column.